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Showing posts from May, 2012

The Toad

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"Sweet are the uses of adversity,
 Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,  Wears yet a precious jewel in his head..."
 Shakespeare, As You Like It







Scenes from a Dye Class: Madder and Cochineal

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Linen scarf, ombre-dyed with madder and cochineal
Today at the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center in East Rochester, NY, four fiber enthusiasts and I spent several hours playing with madder and cochineal, seeing what reds we could achieve with these two ancient dyes.

We had some surprising results! Using cochineal bugs purchased online from Wild Colours in the United Kingdom -- and following their directions -- our fibers came out in vivid purples and lavenders! I bought a 100 gram bag of bugs (sounds nice, doesn't it?), ground them up in my coffee grinder, doused them with boiling water and soaked them overnight, strained them in the morning, and divided up the dye solution between two dye pots. So I used about 50 grams of ground cochineal for maybe 300 to 400 grams of fiber. Here are some results.

Wool yarn on left, cotton on right
In my experience, cochineal produces magenta, rose, and salmon-red colors. How did this happen? Our water is hard -- perhaps that changed the chemistry. …

Indigo-Dyed Tablecloth with Japanese Kanji Saying 'Nourish Body & Soul'

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Having a meal with good friends and family, we do nourish both body and soul. That's the message on this indigo-dyed cotton tablecloth, using Japanese kanji -- symbols -- for the words "nourish," "body," and "soul." I created stencils with images from the internet, cutting them out of freezer paper and ironing them in the center (well, off-center) of this cotton twill tablecloth. Using three colors of Shiva oil-based paint sticks -- iridescent blue, copper, and gold -- I dusted the stencils with color and left them to dry.

The fabric was dipped three times in an indigo vat to achieve a true sky blue, as only indigo can do. I'm hoping to sell this on Etsy but, if not, it will definitely work on my patio table. Sitting outside and enjoying dinner on a summer's evening is one of my husband's favorite things to do. We have a garden with lots of Japanese plants and accents. So many of us admire the Japanese way of doing things, myself included…